questionsessential baby items for a gift: any ideas?

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I would go with diapers, you can never have enough diapers.

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Parents of babies can truly never have enough diapers and wipes. Even if you buy a size up in diapers, they will eventually get used. These were the things I remember being the most grateful for.

One gift my sister gave me when my youngest was born was a huge tub full of baby food (tons of jars and a few boxes of cereal). Using coupons and following sales, you can probably get a whole lot for your price range (and maybe add in some bowls, spoons, cups, etc). Granted, it didn't get used for a few months, but I didn't need to buy baby food for a long time, thanks to her. Just be sure to keep an eye on the expiration dates.

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Diapers, blankets and onesies seem to be the order of the day.

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A diaper genie would be a terrific gift. I've given them to young parents who had no idea what they were and weren't particularly excited about receiving one, but later admitted that it was the single most useful thing they had ever received.

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We have a newborn and it is so true about the diapers. It is amazing how many you go through in a day!

Some other ideas for the first few months might be diaper rash cream (never tried it, but the name is fun - http://www.amazon.com/Anti-Monkey-Butt-00031-Anti-monkey/dp/B0038T0R30/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1336067364&sr=8-3, baby wash (aveeno is nice and gentle) http://www.amazon.com/Aveeno-Baby-Soothing-Relief-Ounce/dp/B006O3MFHI/ref=sr_1_15?s=baby-products&ie=UTF8&qid=1336067455&sr=1-15, gripe water (which has been great since our son is a bit gassy), and if she will nurse her baby, Lansinoh or Medela lanolin is a godsend. Might also be nice to add some gentle detergent like Dreft if your budgeted amount allows for it. Regular detergent can be harsh on baby`s new skin, so I use the gentler one for all of our baby*s items.

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I was going to recommend the diaper genie (it is excellent) as well, but if they are strapped for cash the refills may not be something they want to purchase. If that is not a factor, definitely recommend.

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@kristiwsu: Diaper champ is way better! Smell stays in and you dont have to buy refills, you can use any bag! like the 3000 bags you always forget to recycle at the store :) Good luck with what ever you choose!

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Diapers are definitely a no-fail answer. I really found the bigger sizes helpful because it was like a nice surprise a couple months down the road and I remember using them as a trial to see if my children were to that size yet.

If you know that the mother is breastfeeding, I would highly recommend Lansinoh (you should be able to find it in the baby aisle even at chain retailers). It is a miracle ointment that helps with the soreness and dryness of breastfeeding. It literally saved my nursing relationship with my first child and I've given it to every new breastfeeding mother since, always with a tremendous thank you a couple weeks out.

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+1 for Diapers. Go with a size 2 or 3. Most likely your cousin's baby will be through the newborn diapers and to size 1 by the time you get her your gift. She will also likely have a bunch of size 1 by then. We have a box of size 3's just waiting for use. The nice thing is we can pull one out when we think he is getting close to check for size.
(This is coming from the proud new father of a 4 month-old boy.)

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@belyndag: I've never heard of a diaper genie before, but that thing looks freaking amazing. I'm not sure if I'll get one for my cousin, but I think it is definitely going to be THE gift I get for all future baby showers.

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With a limited income extra diapers come in very handy. Also oinment, wipes, and safety equipment for the house (a gate for the stairs or doorway, outlet covers, cabinet locks, etc).

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@kamikazeken and @kristiwsu: I certainly agree that this is NOT the best situation, but once the baby is on the way and the decision to keep it has been made, supporting the mom's decision to keep the baby is the best thing for both of them and for society. I've certainly seen plenty of fails when it comes to "shotgun weddings" and teen moms (Lord I hate that show!), but I also have several friends who made the same decision and are still happily married to the baby-daddy after 30+ years. A few of these did finish college and all have gone on to some kind of career. In fact, one of my closest friends and her husband who had their first child at 17 now owns a thriving business and has raised three successful children. It seems to me that the difference between those whose marriages succeeded and those whose marriages failed has been that the successful moms DID pursue additional education and careers. Encourage your cousin to do this. Maybe it's a self-worth thing, but it works!

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ask her if she's interested in making a baby registry. a coworker had one and i chose something that she actually wanted or needed. good thing is she had different price points so i chose what i was comfortable paying for, and even added a free gift message that most sites give.
here are some links she can look at. sign up and click away as things come to mind

http://www.toysrus.com/registry/
http://www.thebump.com/registry/home.aspx
http://www.diapers.com/baby-registry/Welcome.aspx
http://www.amazon.com/gp/baby/homepage
http://www.walmart.com/giftregistry
http://www.target.com/BabyRegistryPortalView

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@mommyleah: I've never seen one of those. I will be sure to look the next time I need to give a baby gift. The diaper genie's weren't even around back when mine were in diapers, and we used to BEG the grocery store for extra bags (Good Lord! Now I can't get rid of the things!) because you couldn't even buy those cheap rolls of diaper disposal bags available now. My sister introduced me to the diaper genie when her oldest was born and it has been my go-to gift ever since (and I usually include extra bags!). The last time I planned to give one I discovered that the new parents planned to use only cloth diapers, which seem to have come a long way from the old rectangle things requiring pins. @kristiwsu be sure that they plan to use disposables before you give them diapers!

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I was going to suggest a subscription to Amazon Mom, but if they don't have internet access I would also go with diapers. She will never get too many. Make sure to get the ones that say 16-28 pounds because they never actually hold that much.

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@w00tgurl: Thanks for the suggestion. I asked my aunt if my cousin was registered anywhere and she said no, so I don't think she's going to start a registry. I don't believe they have the internet access and they live in a small town with Fred Meyer being the only semi-local store that sells baby gear, so it's not very convenient. Registries are a godsend though, especially when you don't really know someone that well.

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@belyndag: I will have to get some of that. I had bought some for a friend this past winter when her little one was having a rash and she said it worked nicely. Luckily we have not needed to use any yet. Thanks!

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I'd go with diapers and a baby first aid kit. If funds permit and if there's a place that offers it I'd also suggest a CPR class. I work in health care and trust me those classes are invaluable! yu would not believe what we see here that could have been far less tragic had someone known what to do.
As to the diaper Genie- I bought one when they first came out and I found them to be a pain. I returned mine within 3 days. I know people just adore them, but I was perfectly content with the blue diaper "trash" bags (kind of like little doggie doo bags). Cost about $2.50 and I think you got around 50 of them. I loved those things. They were easy to carry and smelled like baby powder.

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@kamikazeken: You know, I'm there with you. She's a HS dropout (oh, don't worry, she got her GED rolls eyes), but at least she married the father? Which I'm predicting will last 1 or 2 years. It's a horrible and stupid situation, which is why I want to get her something useful so at least it is for the baby and not something fun for her. I thought about getting her a card saying "I didn't get you a gift since we'll be paying for this kid anyway". I apologize to taxpayers for my trashy cousin if she does end up collecting public assistance, but I didn't have a say in her choices.

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@kophia: It smells SOOOO much better than Desitin, too!

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@belyndag: sorry, but "supporting the mother and her decision" is what's wrong with our society. Odds are 99.99% that this is a terrible decision!
By supporting bad decisions and the people who make them, we encourage more bad decisions by more people.

My belief is STUPID SHOULD HURT. Giving the child up for adoption would be a decision people should support. I myself was adopted 3 days after my birth to teen mother, and it was by far the best decision for BOTH of us. Sure it was hard, but doing the right thing is often very hard to do.

Anyway, she appears to have SOME sense, at least she's marrying the father. Although getting married at 17 isn't exactly a great option either.

In answer to the first question, give diapers and/or wipes. A parent can never have enough of either. If you want to get creative, make a "diaper cake"

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I know I'm gonna get some hate for this, but unless she already has her HS diploma and is marrying the father, the best gift you give would be to the taxpayers who are likely to end up supporting this child and her new baby.
Single women who give birth in their teens have only a 2% rate of completing college, and a MUCH higher-than-normal chance of living in poverty and being on one form or another of public assistance.

IMO, teens who get knocked up should not get to experience the normal fun things about a pregnancy, like baby showers.

OK, let the downvoting on this post begin.